Monday, October 29, 2018

Businesses in Recruitment Mode at CVTC Career Fair

Culinary program draws some new participants

Article Photo - Businesses in Recruitment Mode at CVTC Career Fair

CVTC Automation Engineering Technology student Lucas Gont of Chippewa Falls troubleshoots a circuit at the Cardinal FG table at the CVTC Fall Career Fair Wednesday, Oct. 24. Looking on from left are Kevin Nolan and Scott Brunner from the company’s Menomonie plant. Cardinal FG is seeking students and graduates from Gont’s program.

Lucas Gont of Chippewa Falls, an Automation Engineering Technology student at Chippewa Valley Technical College, tested various points, trying to find the trouble on a model circuit set up at the Cardinal FG table at the CVTC Fall Career Fair Wednesday, Oct. 24. The device is used at the Menomonie glass plant in pre-employment screening for maintenance positions.

It also helped to draw attention to the company’s table in a highly competitive environment for employers. The current labor market gives applicants an advantage, because good help is getting scarce out there.

Cardinal FG had a lot of competition getting students’ attention. This year, 163 booths were reserved at the event, with 61 booths at the Business, 25 at Health, 59 at Manufacturing, and 18 at Energy education centers. That was up from 128 at the Spring Career Fair.

At the Manufacturing Education Center, employers were sounding a familiar refrain. The manufacturing sector is woefully short of help in the skilled trades such as welding, industrial mechanics, machinists, and automation specialists.

At the Cardinal FG table, Kevin Nolan and Scott Brunner were looking for Automation Engineering Technology and Industrial Mechanic program students, and their display allowed the students to demonstrate their skills.

“It’s a simple motor starter circuit,” Brunner said. “We give potential applicants a taste of what they might be troubleshooting at our facility.”

“There are several things that can go wrong, and we make sure two or three things are wrong and have them troubleshoot it,” Nolan added. Brunner and Nolan indicated the students did pretty well.

One of the students stopping by to try was Lucas Gont of Chippewa Falls, who will graduate from the Automation Engineering Technology program in December. But he already has experience on the production floor, working full time as a systems technician for 3M in Menomonie while finishing school.

“I’m just looking around to see if the grass is greener on the other side,” Gont said. “I’m looking for something stable, so I can be there a long time.”

The current labor market, especially in manufacturing, gives students like Gont plenty of options.

At the Business Education Center, CVTC’s newest program drew some early attention from potential employers.

Ruth Stoyke, owner of the immensely popular Harbor View Café in Pepin, had never considered getting a table at a CVTC Career Fair. But CVTC hadn’t had a Culinary Management program until now.

Stoyke became one of the first in her industry to come to a CVTC Career Fair to specifically recruit students from the Culinary Management program, which is just in its first semester and students a long way from graduating from the two-year program.

Stoyke was excited about the prospect of finding applicants excited about culinary arts. “We’re known for cooking from scratch,” she said. “We make a lot of great sauces and make our own stocks. We are not fast food. We don’t even own a microwave. I’m looking for some culinary students who want to cook from scratch.”

Stoyke knows the students won’t complete the program for some time, but she can find roles for them well before they finish. She needs plenty of help in the busy summer months. “They can start part-time too,” she added.

Emy Polodna, a recruiter with Noodles World Kitchen, was also hoping to meet some culinary students, but her needs go beyond the kitchen.

“You don’t have to have a culinary degree to work at Noodles World Kitchen, but some knowledge of food handling is helpful,” Polodna said. “We have kitchen cooking positions available, and front-of-the-house positions and shift manager positions.”

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